Midlothian MSP calls on council to ban weed killer use

Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie has called for an urgent ban on Glyphosate weed killer used by Midlothian Council, after it was reintroduced in the local area.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 7:00 am
Stock Picture : John Devlin. 25/05/2020.

A spokesperson for the council said there was a cross party Group Leaders agreement to the use of Glyphosate Weed Killer as an exception due to the Covid-19 pandemic impact in this past year.

While Glyphosate use was withdrawn by Midlothian Council in February 2019 it still had permitted use in specific circumstances in contracted landscaping works and non-council premises. The council agreed to stop using Glyphosate weed killers on council-owned land.

Mr Beattie (SNP) commented: “I have been contacted by a group of residents from Danderhall who have alerted me to the use of Glysophate weed killed by the council in the local area and they have made me aware of the community’s concerns in relation to this.

“I don’t believe this is acceptable.

"The product was correctly banned in the first place and not only is this weed killer particularly threatening to vegetation and insects but there is also evidence which proves it has carcinogenic effects on humans.

"This weed killer should have no place in our local community and we need to ban it to protect wildlife and also public health.”

A Midlothian Council spokesperson said: “The UK Government considers that the regulatory process for authorising plant protection products is a robust system.

"The authorisation process takes into account all scientific knowledge available.”

Mr Beattie added: “I have written to the SNP councillors at Midlothian Council to ask for their support in taking action to bring this product out of use and they have assured me they will continue to oppose its use locally.

"It’s time for the Labour-led council to take some action here and do what’s right to protect our local wildlife and communities.”

Responding, Labour councillor John Hackett said: “The council’s Labour administration supports the continued limited use of glyphosate to keep our roads, paths and public spaces clear of weeds.

"The council has been reducing the use of glyphosate year after year which we support, however this has been done in a planned, effective manner. We see the potential for further reduced use of glyphosate where cost effective alternatives are available.

“The outright ban as advocated by Colin Beattie MSP has been trailed in 2019 and lead to a significant increase in complaints about the state of local public open spaces, schools, cemeteries and parks and did damage to the road network.

"An outright ban ignores the concerns of the majority of residents while his views appear to have no scientific basis.

"Indeed, the Scottish Government to whom he is part of, licences the use of glyphosate across the country, is used by organisations such as the NHS Scotland and Transport Scotland and is used widely in the Midlothian Agricultural sector.

“While Midlothian is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, it would seem our local MSP’s focus is attempting to score weak political points ahead of the parliamentary election.

"Residents can be assured that your Labour Council administration will remain focused on supporting the recovery of our communities and delivering our £850 million capital spending plan unanimously agreed at the council on 23rd of February.

"Labour’s remains firmly focused on jobs, housing and education.”